Teacher licensure can be complex. RANDA uses blockchain to make it easy.
For years, RANDA has been passively involved in blockchain architectures, investigating the strategy and continually researching the alignment of this breakthrough technology and its potential impacts on education data and teacher licensure. We became more active in the community in 2018 when we saw the potential for identity support and data ownership. At our core, RANDA believes teachers, and more generally educators, should have control over their data without external involvement from vendors.
Education institutions will require blockchain architecture that aligns directly with the three pillars of blockchain technology: decentralization, transparency and immutability. Understanding these basic principles will help education leaders understand the implications of this technology and its ability to mitigate current and future challenges with teacher licensure and beyond.
Decentralization simplifies the process for information exchange. A central body that controls teacher licensure must process and verify multiple points of information for each individual applicant. The flow of information into the central system overwhelms it. The individual educator is the primary stakeholder for obtaining a license as it is a requirement for employment. Therefore, when the responsibility for verification falls to the individual participant or educator there is a coordination of information between educator, licensure agency and 3rd party organizations such as colleges or Educator Prep Programs (EPPs). By decentralizing licensure, it is easier to secure documents because they are stored in a location accessible only by the owner rather than single system-based servers.
Privacy and transparency can co-exist as teachers and licensing agencies work together to complete an application. When educators own the required proofs of their education and experience, they have control over who can see it and when. When they choose to conduct a transaction involving their data, such as submitting a transcript to the licensing agency, the receiver can trace that document, verifying authenticity. Individuals and organizations can trust information knowing that it is completely traceable back to the original source. This transparency allows for more confidence in the veracity of a digital document than simply a scanned version of a potentially altered paper document.
Once information is stored on the blockchain it is unchangeable. Each block, and what it contains, is created using a cryptographic principle or hash value. Simply put, an alphanumeric string is created by each block, separately. A modification creates a new record but both records link chronologically. This means that as a teacher adds a new endorsement or professional development certificate a new block is created. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is never put directly on the chain. Instead, the system leverages immutability to provide proof that the data does not require additional audits or verification to be considered trustworthy. This enables state agencies to improve their workflow efficiency often being able to approve licensure applications in almost real time.
By incorporating these three blockchain concepts into our business architecture, RANDA helps states and districts leverage this technology to improve portability, data agency and efficiency for credential or license issuance. Moving into the new era of hybrid learning, the future of this technology has potential to solve virtualization hardships and teacher vacancies by providing education leaders with valuable insights and strategy around workforce management.